If you were born in the eighties there were two very prevalent events that occurred in the nineties that were shoved down your throat. One of those events was the OJ Simpson trail. Chances are your mom watched it. My mom did and went to her grave saying Simpson was innocent. The other though involved figure skating. For some reason when I was growing up the winter Olympics were a much bigger deal than not. Actually, I would say figure skating in general was a bigger deal than it is now for whatever reason. Maybe that tide is changing, but regardless I remember most people were enamored with figure skating once upon a time. This of course brings to the Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding scandal. We were all told essentially when we were young that Tonya Harding was this horrible person and we should not like her for what happened to Kerrigan. However, after watching I, Tonya, I’m sort of conflicted with if she is that horrible person we were once told about in the nineties.
Day 29: A movie that changed your opinion about something – I, Tonya
As soon as I saw the trailer for I, Tonya I was intrigued. I wanted to know the details behind a story from when I was younger. I did not know when I went into the theater my opinion on Harding would change that day. Granted, most biographies are going to make people view that person in a good light. And despite knowing that I was still shocked to learn most of the information in the film about Harding. After all, growing up we were told to hate Harding. I do not remember being given these facts about her life at all. Of course in my defense when the incident happened I was nine years old. I would venture to say I was not paying as much attention as the adults in my life at the time. Then again, I’m not sure that we cared as a nation to learn about Harding’s life until after her ban took place anyway.
There’s no denying that regardless of who knew what Kerrigan was in fact a victim of assault. Hands down, this is nothing that can be denied and the truth is I don’t think I, Tonya tries to do that. However, it does paint Harding in a light that she too was a victim. Her childhood was by far not a glamours one. She was going to be the best figure skater she could be and her mother made sure of that in the most unorthodox ways. There was not a whole lot of true support other than making sure her daughter was trained by one of the best teachers at that time. For the most part she was belittled and always told that she was not good enough so that is why she had to work harder than most. Tonya’s mother was not going to coddle her one tiny bit. I’m not saying that we should be coddled as a nation, but we do need encouragement with that criticism. Constructive criticism is our friend and would have truly benefited Tonya coming from her mother.
Instead, we focus on this young woman who makes absolutely horrible decisions. That is made clear by her choice in boyfriend, and future husband, Jeff Gillooly. At first we want to root for her to be loved. We want to believe that she can live a life of pure bliss. But the truth is the only thing her childhood taught her was that it’s okay to be treated like crap from those who love us. Physical and emotional abuse is absolutely okay as long as it’s coming from someone who loves us. Granted, some people strive for better if they have gone through such, but I can understand why people would accept that is just how people love if that is how they’ve been treated all their lives too. Thankfully, she does decide to get away from him at one point, but she falls back into the trap of thinking he has changed and won’t hurt her again too.
The film gives us all these details of Harding’s life and leads us up to what can only be called the Tonya Harding Incident. You can actually google that and add date to find that it took place on January 6, 1994. I’m not sure if the same will pop up if you call it the Nancy Kerrigan Incident. Maybe. Either way she insisted that she didn’t truly know what Jeff and Shawn had planned. Did she know? There is no definitive answer because it turns into a battle of he said she said. In my opinion, I went from believing she had a hand in what occurred to believing she did not. Do I think she wanted an edge in the competition? Yes. Do I think she went as far to plot to hurt someone she considered a friend? No. I think she was genuinely shocked to find out what had taken place. I feel she was genuinely upset that they took it as far a they did.
Ultimately, I think Tonya Harding wasn’t received as well because of her upbringing. She couldn’t afford the spectacular outfits, but she tried. She tried harder than most people to really overcome her upbringing. She attempted to become more and change a destiny that most people feel stuck in when brought up poor. The truth was she was well on her way before she was served a lifetime ban from figure skating. A ban that I know think was uncalled for ultimately. In a way she was convicted even though she was never proven guilty. How is that even remotely fair? I know, I know, life isn’t fair, but after watching I, Tonya I truly believe a woman that was dubbed the most hated woman for a time being in the nineties received the short end of the stick.